Mixed Ruling on Shell Oil Liability in Nigeria Spill

From CBS News

A Dutch court has ruled that a subsidiary of international oil giant Royal Dutch Shell should be held responsible for a pipeline leak poisoning farmland in Nigeria, as it had failed to take adequate measures to prevent sabotage.

In its ruling Wednesday the Hague Civil Court rejected most of the case brought by Nigerian farmers and environmental pressure group Friends of the Earth against Shell, saying the leaking pipelines were was caused by saboteurs, not Shell negligence.

However, in one case, the judges ordered a subsidiary, Shell Nigeria, to compensate a farmer for breach of duty of care by making it too easy for saboteurs to open an oil well head that leaked on to his land.

It was believed to be the first time a Dutch court has held a multinational’s foreign subsidiary liable for environmental damage and ordered it to pay damages.

Shell hailed the judgment as a victory.

“We are very pleased by the ruling of the court today,” said Allard Castelain of Shell. “It’s clear that both the parent company, Royal Dutch Shell, as well as the local venture … has been proven right.”

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